Vanessa PhillipsAuthor: Vanessa Phillips, Senior at Hibriten High School

For students with lofty goals, senior year is probably the most difficult time in their lives up to this point. I know it has been for me. Balancing my workload at school, a job, and intense college applications has been an unparalleled challenge. Thankfully, my college adviser, Mr. Ruvio, has been available to help guide me down the path to college admission. I am pleased to say I have been accepted at a top tier university.

Coming from a rural community where it is not typical for students to broaden their college search outside of state lines, it took most of high school to reveal what ended up being the best path for myself. Prior to sitting down with my adviser during sophomore year, I was a strong student, ranking first in my class. I had potential. However, I was not nearly as involved in extracurricular activities as I needed to be to gain access to the universities I would soon desire to attend for my postsecondary education. I figured out where I wanted to go by conducting research on colleges independently. The place where Mr. Ruvio truly aided me was in how to develop my test scores, as well as my résumé, to gain acceptance to the college of my choice. The norms in my community were not conducive to knowing what was even necessary for me to apply to selective schools (SAT Subject Tests, I am looking at you). Therefore, having access to Mr. Ruvio gave me indispensable information.

Sitting down with my adviser at the end of sophomore year, I took the opportunity to clearly lay out my game plan for strengthening my student profile. Mr. Ruvio saw opportunities for improvement in areas I had not previously considered, like discovering my interests through extracurricular clubs and developing my leadership abilities. By the end of junior year, I had completed a community service project in Europe, become the co-president of the prominent honors service club at my school, played soccer, and was accepted to North Carolina’s Governor’s School. Of all these experiences, the most impactful would be Governor’s School. The passion I discovered for math in my AP Calculus class translated into a fulfilling summer of abstract thinking at Governor’s School. This was the time I truly blossomed as a leader among my peers, becoming the hall representative of my dorm floor. The six and a half week math project I participated in, along with two partners, won the top award in the math department of Governor’s School. We hosted an elective for the school in which we presented our project to peers and faculty.  All this started with Mr. Ruvio deciding to talk to me; one initial conversation with my college adviser served as a catalyst for positive change in my life.

Of course, I have had many meetings with my college adviser as my high school career has progressed. In July of this year, I began to prepare a list of colleges where I would apply. By August, I submitted my first application to Georgetown University. Mr. Ruvio responded to my emails concerning scholarships and selectivity even before the school year began. The information he provided allowed me to take a more organized approach to what could have been a chaotic application process. My list of applications evolved throughout my first semester, the workload growing continuously. Colleges ask that you prove your interest in them simply through the rigorousness of applications. For Columbia University alone, I wrote three essays and completed four other short answer questions. I applied to eight schools in total, all of them with requirements similar to Columbia. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was feeling weighed down by the pressure to produce the best applications possible while maintaining my AP course load at school. Throughout the year, my adviser provided encouragement to maintain my drive for success. I was given insights as to what selective universities may be looking for in an admissions candidate so that I could think strategically about how best to present myself.

Vanessa Phillips letter on Georgetown letterheadAs of April, I have been accepted to Georgetown University and will be attending the McDonough School of Business there this fall. I had been awaiting news from other colleges such as Columbia University and Cornell University. I could only have imagined applying to these selective schools four years ago. Freshman year of high school, the thought of attending college outside of North Carolina was inconceivable. Concerning college, my perspective was limited to those I had been exposed to growing up. Gaining exposure to new people, as well as new places, caused me to think outside the box I had constructed for myself. My utmost desire became finding a college which best suited me, regardless of location; that is why I am so enthusiastically anticipating joining my new college community. I know while there I will be a representative of my area and a catalyst for change, just as my adviser was when he came to my community. I plan to involve myself in programs which encourage students to embrace their education and I hope to put myself in a role where I can become a mentor. There is a need within me to communicate the range of opportunities any student can have if they work to the best of their abilities. If I had not had that realization that the world was at my fingertips, I am not certain what I would be doing today.

woman with mascotThis past weekend I was exposed to the plethora of opportunities I will have at Georgetown. I was able to go to the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program (GAAP) weekend, a student-run weekend for early admits to be welcomed on campus. As cliché as this may sound, I have never felt more at home at a school I visited. Not only did the students in charge of events interact with me, I had others pause their work to discuss coming to Georgetown with me while I was walking around campus. They chose to talk to me, encouraging me to make the same decision they made which changed their lives for the better. Another highlight of my visit was the activities fair. I was impressed by organizations such as the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union (GUASFCU), which is the largest student-run credit union in the country. Being at Georgetown, grasping what the experience of attending school there would be like, I was enchanted. There were multiple information sessions, icebreakers, and dorm tours. Leaving the university that weekend, I knew I had found the place which would be my home for the next four years.

Reflecting upon my growth over the course of high school, I now know students like myself need people to do three things when working to open opportunities for us: be straightforward, be encouraging, and be knowledgeable. Those traits are the ones I have valued most in my college adviser. The process of applying to college can be confounding, and those traits help to abate the significant amount of anxiety students can face. If students such as myself have questions about applications, there has to be a resource where we can get an answer. Sometimes Google doesn’t cut it, but having a college adviser who speaks concisely, positively, and with a confident comprehension of your problem always does. Students truly can succeed when provided the sort of guidance that I have received from Mr. Ruvio.

 

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